The teaser trailer for the upcoming Conan the Barbarian came and went, and the reactions from nearly everyone was... well, a vague sense of embarrassment.
For the Robert E. Howard fan it was particularly disheartening. After years of adaptations made on the cheap and put in the public conciousness as half-assed, the fact of this movie looking exactly like one more in that streak. It was possibly more distressing that the given fact that they're giving him a new origin, or rather a kind of retelling of the John Milius/Oliver Stone origin.
Of course, the original Conan the Barbarian, which I'm a huge fan of, managed to make a number of "facts" about Conan out there, where many assume they are inherently true, or at least best. Another successful one could further cement those "facts" or create new ones.
So, what does the new trailer suggest...
It's... not embarrassing.
And it seems to be clear that Marcus Nispel lacks the kind of vision that Milius brought that made such an iconic piece of cinema. In fact, let's be clear with Nispel picked and Ratner as the previous frontrunner, it seems clear that the producers specifically wanted to avoid anyone with any compelling cinematic vision. They wanted someone who could point a camera at the script they presented.
So, the question becomes less how this will be in itself as a work of cinema and more how it will suffice as an opening of a franchise. This post, Possible plot hints on Conan II, suggests it may even be possible that the next installment will be - of all things - a real Robert E. Howard adaptation.
Maybe the question is less how much will I like this, as I'm likely to be as annoyed by it as I am pleased.
I'll admit Jason Momoa is growing on me as Conan. He's not my ideal. I said before that I think Robert Mitchum comes as close as I can imagine a movie star. My friend Ian McDowell suggested Sean Connery, who is admittedly more accurately Celtic.
On the other hand, he does convey the stealthy, animal like physique that Howard described, or close enough, while capturing a quality of the scowl from familiar Frank Frazetta or John Buscema portrayals.
Not to mention, while it's hard in places to read between the lines with the fast editing, it appears the "sorcery" could be more accurately of an Eldritch nature, or more familiarly Lovecraftian, than previous adaptations, so perhaps a real adaptation could feel more natural following this one.
I'm far from sold, but I'm a step or two less skeptical than I had been. I'm just not sure if that's a good thing or not yet.
UPDATE: Some other thoughts:
Stills & Analysis of the Conan the Barbarian Trailer, Part 1. Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, which addresses the correct pronunciation of the name of the character (as well as my son), Part 5 and Final Analysis of the Conan the Barbarian Trailer by Al Harron.
Watch: Jason Momoa and Rachel Nichols keep it hot in Conan the Barbarian by Drew McWeeny.
Theatrical Trailer For Conan the Barbarian Remake Released by Eric Eisenberg.
And Derek Hill reminds me on Twitter that I forgot to note the verisimilitude that is one of the greatest strengths of Milius's Conan the Barbarian and quite probably its strongest connection to Howard's original stories. This movie seems to have gone in a more modern stylized approach that I'm not convinced by.